Labor and Public Employees Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

HB-6875

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING CRIMINAL RECORDS AND EMPLOYMENT APPLICATIONS.

Vote Date:

3/12/2015

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable

PH Date:

3/5/2015

File No.:

379

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Labor and Public Employees Committee

REASONS FOR BILL:

This bill would prevent employer's discrimination against ex-offenders with minor non-violent misdemeanors. The bill would also allow applicants to keep those records private that are more than five years old.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Tanya Hughes, Executive Director, Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities testified for the bill. The bill will allow individuals with a non-violent misdemeanor more than five years old to not be discriminated against. Individuals will compete on an equal footing and obtain employment based on merit rather than their criminal history. Disqualifying a job applicant because of criminal history will violate state and federal antidiscrimination laws.

Stephen N. Ment, Judicial Branch, State of Connecticut stated the judicial branch is concerned with certain provisions of the bill. Connecticut General Statutes 46a-81 sets forth exceptions to the policy for law enforcement agencies. They would like to see the bill amended to provide a similar exception to strike an appropriate balance so law enforcement agencies are free to abide by the bills' general principle, while also maintaining the discretion to screen applicants for sensitive positions if necessary.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

None submitted

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

Connecticut Police Chief Association submitted testimony referring to application for jobs in law enforcement. Immediate disclosure of past arrests is necessary to screen out applicants. If an applicant acknowledges past encounters with law enforcement, the chief is able to see that the applicant is forthcoming and perhaps suitable for employment.

Eric Gjede, Assistant Council, Connecticut Business and Industry (CBIA) testified in opposition to the bill. Hiring employees is an expensive process ant there are jobs that require candidates to have a clean record. This bill prevents employers from screening ineligible candidates causing additional time, resources and costs.

Kevin A. Dillon, Executive Director Connecticut Airport Authority testified on the effect this bill would have on Airport employees. Resources would needlessly be expended processing application that would require mandatory rejection as per federal regulations regardless of whether the individual was otherwise qualified. Individuals with certain criminal histories are not permitted to acquire access to secure areas in the airport.

Mag Morelli, President, LeadingAge Connecticut submitted information regarding the mandatory centralized Applicant Background Check Management Systems that is being developed by the Connecticut Department of Public Health. They anticipate going live with this on April 1st, and will mandate background searches for all new hires that have direct access to nursing home residents and other elderly health care providers.

National Federation of Independent Business opposes this bill because it would dramatically restrict the ability of small employers to have necessary and relevant information related to the criminal backgrounds of potential employees. It also increases the potential for litigation by adding more risks and variables into the hiring process. This leaves no legal recourse for employers who may be put in a tenuous legal position as a result of limited information during the hiring process.

Reported by: Marie Knudsen

Date: March 25,2015